ETV: Grey’s Anatomy – How Insensitive

E: Good work, Grey’s Anatomy.  This was a really nice episode. I laughed and I cried.  It wasn’t howlingly funny, or devastatingly sad, but it was pretty close to both and I’m going to take it!  (Especially when the previews for next week look all annoying and anvilicious.) The episode begins with Bailey giving out sensitivity training to the interns and residents.  Hey, Mercy Westers!  Nice to see you – sort of.  They’re all here; April Kepner, sighing annoyingly at the mention of Chief Shepherd and his enormous sensitivity in getting them all sensitive sensitivity training, Dr. Jackson Avery and his pretty pretty eyes, Charles Percy (who appears in one of my favorite Veronica Mars episodes, “The Wrath of Con”), and curly haired pixie what’s her name that we haven’t see in ages. The one who was obsesses with Alex and then disappeared. Reed Adamson, that’s right.

And it looks like the timing is pretty good, too, because a mystery patient rolls up.  In a flat bed truck.  Because he doesn’t fit in the ambulance.

Bobby Corso (played by Jerry Kernion, who has to be in a latex suit, right?) hasn’t walked in a year, and has stomach pains.  The writers landed on a good sensitivity issue here- fat is one of the last acceptable prejudices, up there with Nazis and Middle Eastern terrorists, and these are pretty thin people to start with.  What could be more appalling in Hollywood than extreme obesity?  And it is hard to watch the humiliations.  The poor man actually breaks his ankle trying to walk through a doorway sideways when they can’t roll him in.  He cracks jokes all over the place, but the newly sensitized staff has been forbidden to joke about him.  (Part of the episode lesson turns out to be that sensitivity is more about individuals than stereotypes; the wisecracking fat man is trying to put himself at ease and make a connection, and they would have done better to laugh and joke with him than stand poker faced and leave him hanging.)  Bailey knocks anyone off the case who makes the slightest wrong move.  First it’s Avery in the ambulance bay, then Cristina in the ER for saying “I know, no fat jokes,” and later Percy when he suggests they contact the zoo to get a CT scanner that’s big enough to accommodate Corso.  Hey, that was an honest suggestion!, he protest.  “It wasn’t a bad idea,” says Hunt, but Richard thinks it’s undignified.  I’m not sure Corso would have cared.  When they tell him that some of the tissue on his lower stomach has become necrotized (dead), he jokes that it makes sense; he’s eaten everything else, he might as well start re-absorbing his own body.  Later it’s Lexie for expressing shock when Mrs. Corso – a sweet, chirpy, pretty little woman – announces that she’s pregnant.  If Bailey could have thrown out Derek, she would have; he says they need to send Corso to a bariatric center, where they’re equipped to deal with people his size, so he doesn’t have to waste his time on someone who made himself sick. It was such a loathsome thing to say, no one could even believe it came out of his mouth. Richard talks him down, and he apologizes. I wonder if he might have been right about the bariatric center, but the rest?  Ugh.

There’s a terrible scene later where Mrs. Corso walks past Meredith, Lexie, Cristina and Alex eating lunch.  (Sigh – just writing that makes me miss George and Izzie so much.)  Cristina is trying to work out – using a burger and a single fry as visual aids – how the Corsos possibly could have conceived a baby naturally.   It’s just as bad as you’d think, and she justly rips them all new ones.  Later, when Bobby has refused treatment for the necrotic tissue (he wants to just fade away before the baby comes so he won’t be an embarrassment) and lied to his wife about it, the wife has another run in with Alex.  And Alex ends up doing his thing – he uses honesty first to joke and then to take Corso to task for not trying.  You’ll probably die on the table (surgery is much riskier for him, since his organs are overtasked) and then you get your wish, but you give your wife and kid the gift of them believing you cared enough to try.  Good on you, Alex.

After one of the most unpleasant surgeries they’ve ever shown (we get some very nasty oozing because Hunt and Sloan decide to go fishing and look for the source of the stomach pains) the team finds and presumably clears up some direticulitus scarring.  And Bobby Corso lives, to diet and to rejoin the world for the sake of his wife and child.  His wife is truly lovely, and absolutely adores him, and he her, and – is it dumb to say that in the fan fiction in my head, he gets healthy and they have a beautiful little girl who just lights up their lives?

The smaller plots (no pun intended): a girl with a smashed up knee hits on Callie, who flirts back.  The girl writes her number in sharpie on Callie’s hand.  Um, Callie?  They don’t come off easily, you know that, right?  Grumpy Derek asks Meredith if she knows why Owen didn’t recommend Teddy stay; she realizes that both Teddy and Cristina think Owen spoke up for Teddy.  Meredith understands what it means.  Owen sees it in her face, and rather inappropriately takes it out on Derek, who then takes it out on Meredith.  He needs to be able to share his work with her, but her poker face isn’t good enough, and she cares too much about Cristina to let it go on for much longer.

Derek could use a little sensitivity training himself. This week he’s giving a deposition for a lawsuit filed by Garret Clark after his brain dead wife was taken off life support against his will (but in compliance with her dnr).  Would it kill him to say something like “it’s not a choice I make lightly” or “this is the worst part of my job” or, or, something ? (Let’s forget the fact that he diagnosed Allison Clark’s brain death in one breath and asked Meredith what they were doing for lunch in the next.)  I know that medical professionals get used to death.  But.  Isn’t he Mr. Sad Eyes, Doctor Bed Side Manner?  Isn’t that his thing?  I’m sorry.  I felt when that episode aired, and I feel now, that Derek could have made the whole situation – not easy certainly, and might not even have prevented the lawsuit, but certainly better if he’d taken a little time and showed a little human compassion.  I realize that he’s having tremendous difficulty with his new job, but blech.  Right now he’s mad and cold, and there’s nothing mcdreamy about that.

Then we’ve got Cristina, who ends up babysitting a 9 year old girl whose mother shows up at the hospital with stomach pains which turn out to be the sign of a heart attack.  It’s kind of a women’s health psa, which – maybe it’s weird of me, but I think is awesome. At first Cristina’s pissed not to be working with the mom, but eventually, she bonds with the little girl.  (Cristina hilariously tries to make the girl sit by herself during lunch, because they’re talking about “S*E*X” and the girl glares at her.  “I’m nine. I’m not a baby.  And you just spelled sex.”)  And of course the girl asks Cristina how she could possibly understand what she feels, and Cristina brings up having been in that car crash with her dad.  Is your dad okay?, says the girl.  Yes, lies Cristina, but long time watchers of the show know this is why she became a doctor; to counter that terrible feeling of impotence as she watched her father die, trapped together in the car.

They have a beautiful conversation about loss and how to deal with it, as Jackson – fresh from the failed attempt to save the mother – listens in.  Later he tries to express his sympathy for Cristina’s obvious loss and she rounds on him for his presumption.  Oh, poor Jackson.  She just doesn’t trust that easily, dude.  Meredith tries to talk to her, too, but Cristina only wants Owen.  Of course he thinks she’s somehow figured out his guilty secret, but that’s not it at all.

Cristina weeps in Owen’s shoulder, shuddering, her face scrunched up like a child.  “I miss my Daddy!,” she wails. It reminded me of her breakdown with Burke after the ectopic pregnancy in season 2.  All day she was strong with Meredith and with her Mom, but when Burke sat down on the hospital bed with her, the tears flooded out.  It also makes me remember that Cristina is probably considerably younger than Sandra Oh.  If Cristina took any sort of break between college and med school, we haven’t heard about it – and it hardly seems consistent with her overpowering ambition, either.  So she’s more likely to be in her late twenties than her late thirties. I’m not advocating for younger actresses to have been cast in these roles; I’m just saying that Sandra Oh looks age appropriate for Kevin Kidd, where as Cristina Yang is probably 10-15 years younger than Owen Hunt.  (I looked it up; Sandra Oh is 2 years older than Kevin Kidd.) I’m not saying, either, that this is an incompatible age range; it’s just that her penchant for dating older men who are her mentors – ie, her Daddy issues – are probably made more subtle by the actress’s age and maturity.  And those issues are at play right here. Otherwise, why can’t she cry on her best friend’s shoulder?

Alex signs his divorce papers and (after Meredith has him think about the way he treats her sister) plants a passionate kiss on Lexie, in public and everything.  While that was a seriously awesome kiss, I still don’t like them.  Lexie’s like Izzie light.  She’s all mushy and caring, but unlike Izzie she doesn’t really own her compassionate self.  Anyway, while their attraction is similar to Izzie and Alex’s, it feels stale, especially since Lexie isn’t as interesting or robust a character as Izzie.  It doesn’t feel good for either of them.

The episode ends with the tenderest, sweetest break up I’ve seen in ages; Callie shows Arizona her hand with the half-scrubbed off number on it.  I’m not going to call her, says Callie, but I can’t help wondering if she might want a baby someday.  Oh, honey.  Callie and Arizona hold each other, and kiss, and declare their love, and their inability to be together.  For the record, I really liked them as a couple, and I wish the show hadn’t added this dilemma in to break them up.  I’m sorry, but since it’s there, I’m glad, too.  This had to happen.  And it happened so gently; they had moved past trying to argue each other into different positions and had accepted their fate.

So despite a lot of sad, and a lot of unpleasant, I dug this episode a lot.  One important break up down, and I sense another one coming.  The Cristina/Owen/Teddy/Mark thing can’t last much longer, can it?  Naw, I don’t think so either.

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11 comments on “ETV: Grey’s Anatomy – How Insensitive

  1. heather says:

    Man you nailed it right on the head. Lexie DEFINITELY needs a personality-makeover. They had a couple things going when she first started on the show but she just turned into this doormat and she hasn’t really evolved. Ergo, Alex and her don’t really work together. There’s no fun Izzie-spark between Alex and Lexie. And seriously, Arizona and Callie are the most adorable couple ever. No games, no hiding. Callie came right out with the number and told Arizona what’s what. I’m sad they broke up, but it was the sweetest in a long time. That said, I really hope Arizona can be happy for Callie when she finds out she’s pregnant.

    • E says:

      Since they essentially brought Arizona in to be a love interest for Callie, I’m so curious to see how she works as a regular character on her own. I like her so much, and I liked her so much with Callie… this was a tough thing. But it was so loving and grown up and beautiful – if they had to break them up, that was a weirdly wonderful way to do it.

      As for Lexie? Bah. She needs to grow up.

  2. fantasmic says:

    Nice recap of one of the better Grey’s episodes of the season! BTW, it was established early in season 1 (the pilot episode, I believe) that both Meredith and Cristina were older than the other interns at the time (e.g. Izzy, Alex, and George)… Mer because she took time off (ergo her UK/Europe escapades) while I believe Cristina was in school getting an advanced degree.

    • E says:

      Oh, right. I remember about Meredith backpacking, but I hadn’t about Cristina’s extra degree. Thank you!

      I can’t imagine either of those things would have taken that long, though. I mean, it seems unlikely Meredith backpacked for a decade. 😉 And unless she got a phd (and I’m sure we’d hear about it all the time if she did) Cristina’s extra degree should have taken between 1 and 3 years, tops, which would put then at 22-24 entering med school rather than 21. Which should still put them in their late twenties (since the first three seasons of the show took place over the course of one year) rather than their late thirties/early forties, right?

      • Stephen says:

        Acrually, E., Cristina has a Ph.D from Berkley in addition to her M.D. from Stanford. (She mentions it in S1 or 2.) Might still have taken her just a short time, tough.

        • E says:

          Oh, she IS a mud-fud, huh? Well, that helps. What is it in, do you remember?

          It does kind of surprise me she hasn’t been all about shoving that in people’s faces. And I still think she’s looking to work out her daddy issues with the men she dates. But I guess I can’t prove it cleanly with her age. Oh well!

          • Stephen says:

            Since you asked, I racked my brains. 🙂 It’s from “Band-Aid Covers the Bullet Hole” (http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0763962/quotes): she’s talking to the chief, complaining about changing Bailey’s baby’s diaper.

            Even if her age doesn’t help advance the theory, I’m still inclined to agree with you. Her dating history (Owen, Burke, her professor at Stanford) certainly bears it out!

            Speaking of daddy issues, Lexie and Mark? As much as I like them together, she’s traded the alcohol-addicted father for the sex-addicted partner. (I’ll use the term loosely, but I think it’s apt for this comparison.) Her relationship with George (Bambi — as she calls him, once) could certainly speak to the flip side of the same issue, as he’s someone she needs to nurture (See: the decorating of their apartment). She is the oldest of three siblings, after all.

  3. bubuljice says:

    nice effort!how long did it took to write all this?lol

  4. Nancy says:

    Just when I am about to stop watching this show, they come out with a great episode like this one! I really liked this one for all of the reasons you mentioned!

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